Guide to the Best Earrings for Sensitive Ears

Guide to the Best Earrings for Sensitive Ears

Ear piercing is considered by many to be a rite of passage. Whether parents choose to get their children's ears pierced in infancy or you wait until adulthood, it is a reason to celebrate. At Rowan, we love to celebrate people of all ages!

However, we’ve all heard scary stories about ear piercings:

“Oh, I can’t wear ‘cheap’ earrings.”

“My ears were so red and itchy I took the earrings out.”

“I’m nervous to get my ear re-pierced because I had a reaction before.”  

This is why Rowan provides access to high-quality hypoallergenic and nickel-free earrings. Rowan earrings are safe for all types of ears, sensitive or not.

While some may know ahead of being pierced if they have sensitive ears or an allergy, oftentimes it is your first time being pierced and are unaware. Additionally, you can develop allergies at any point in your life! One factor in developing allergies is over-exposure to allergy-inducing metals (which includes poor quality earrings).

If you have ever wondered about sensitive ears and want to learn the dos and don’ts, read on for our all-inclusive Sensitive Ear Guide!

Hypoallergenic earrings


What do sensitive ears look like?

The first step in finding out if you have sensitive ears is to know the signs and symptoms of allergies in sensitive ears (or contact dermatitis). Common reactions you might see would include itching, redness, rash, or swelling of the skin. Skin can even become red and warm and filled with pus.

These signs and symptoms usually show up within 12-48 hours of when the jewelry comes in contact with skin. The easiest way to avoid an allergic reaction to your earrings is to make sure you are purchasing hypoallergenic, nickel-free earrings - which are available at Rowan!



Did you know that 14K Gold is not 100% gold? If it were, it would be too soft to keep its shape! Most metals are a blend of various metal alloys. It is often those alloys that cause people to have jewelry allergies and sensitivities. The reaction is even more pronounced when the jewelry goes through the skin as opposed to laying on top of it. This is why allergic reactions from earrings tend to be worse than those from necklaces or rings.

What metals cause allergic reactions?

So glad you asked! Let's break it down:

  • Nickel - Nickel is one of the most common metals to develop an allergic reaction to.
  • Copper - It is often mixed with gold to create the ever popular rose gold.
  • Brass - If your skin turns green when wearing jewelry, then it likely has brass in it, which is usually made from a mixture of copper and zinc.
  • Plated Metals - Don’t be lured into a false sense of security with plated metals. The plating can wear over time and expose you to a possible allergy-inducing metal underneath like brass.



What is nickel?

Nickel is a hard, silvery-white metal, whose strength, ductility, and resistance to heat and corrosion make it extremely useful for the development of a wide variety of products - from wires to coins to military equipment to jewelry.

Some nickel compounds have even been found to be carcinogenic and therefore, it is best to avoid nickel in jewelry whenever possible. If you do your research, then you can find high quality and responsible jewelry designers and manufacturers who can ensure that no nickel is ever included in their metal alloys.

Diligent testing can confirm that the jewelry is nickel-free and safe to wear. Rowan exclusively works with vendors who can guarantee that our earrings are nickel-free.

Problems with nickel earrings

While the strength of nickel makes it an attractive metal, the high proclivity for allergic reaction should make you reconsider using it in earrings. Once you develop a nickel allergy you likely will have it for the rest of your life.

Why should we avoid nickel earrings?

Allergic reaction and discomfort are the main reasons to avoid nickel earrings (including those plated with another metal). By avoiding nickel, the chances of having an adverse reaction are significantly decreased.


So, Can I Develop a Skin Allergy?

Absolutely! In fact, it is gradual exposure over time that increases risk of allergic reaction.

Because nickel is so prevalent in many common items (e.g., zippers, faucets, belt buckles, eyeglass hardware), many people do and will develop an allergy to this and other metallic alloys (as many as 1 in 5!).

If earrings make your earlobes itch, feel super sensitive, or give your skin a rash, chances are you have a nickel allergy. According to leading dermatologists, it is one of the most common skin allergies.

Therefore, when selecting earrings, it is always best to select nickel-free earrings for sensitive ears. At Rowan, we actively pursue the highest level of quality product and care, and this extends to our commitment to helping you select the perfect gift too - one that will continue to please long after the box is opened!



What makes jewelry hypoallergenic?

Hypoallergenic earrings are earrings that have been manufactured in a way to reduce the likelihood of allergic reaction. Oftentimes that means using a pure metal or an alloy without metals known to cause reaction.

Here’s the tricky part - sometimes the words “nickel-free” and “hypoallergenic” are used interchangeably when they do not mean the same thing. “Hypoallergenic” can include nickel earrings that have been plated. The best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to make sure to buy jewelry that is both hypoallergenic and nickel free.

Hypoallergenic earrings
What are the best sensitive earrings?

Whether you are known to have a nickel allergy or you're just wanting to play it safe, there are multiple options out there for sensitive ears. Stainless steel and 14k or higher gold are good options. If you can, find out if the final product is tested to confirm that the casting process did not allow traces of nickel. Anything lower than 14k gold usually contains nickel and other allergenic alloys. We use 14k gold at Rowan as it is particularly beautiful and resistant to rusting.


  • Stainless steel/surgical steel is a metal approved by the Association of Professional Piercers (or APP) as long as it conforms to ISO standards. As it is an alloy, there is always a chance of a reaction with stainless steel jewelry.
  • 14k gold is your best gold option since gold higher than 18k is too soft for body jewelry because it can easily be scratched or nicked.

    Other safe metal options can include sterling silver, platinum, palladium, titanium, and tungsten. Gold vermeil, one of our more popular selections, is safe for sensitive ears as both the sterling silver base and the 14k gold finish are hypoallergenic and nickel-free.



    The short answer? Yes!!

    All Rowan earrings have been tested for nickel and other allergy-inducing metal alloys and are hypoallergenic as they are made of nickel-free, pure metals. The founder and CEO of Rowan believes that everyone should have a fun and safe ear piercing experience, and that no one should suffer from painful irritation. We always invest the time and money into higher quality metals and product testing to confirm that all our earrings are nickel-free.

    When choosing the earring to get pierced with, make sure you are choosing sterile, surgical grade stainless steel, plastic, titanium, or 14k gold. We suggest avoiding white gold for initial piercings (or freshly pierced ears) as they may contain traces of nickel.

    Rowan has an extensive selection of nickel-free earrings both as starter earrings for your first piercing and for established piercings! When you select a Rowan product, you can feel confident that you won’t experience the mental and physical anguish of having a severe infection or having to re-pierce ears that had closed. We always use high quality metals to ensure that we are creating the best possible earrings for potentially sensitive ears.

    Another way Rowan provides peace of mind is with our ear piercing professionals - nurses! All our ear piercings are performed by licensed nurses. Since nurses have hands-on medical training and experience, they know how to create a stress-free environment, are experts in maintaining sterility, and always put their clients first. Those with sensitive skin will feel especially at ease knowing that their piercings will be done by a license professional.

    Ear piercing professional

    When you book with Rowan, you have the assurance that not only will you have the highest quality materials, but you also have a trained nurse performing the piercing!



    We all enjoy that fantastic moment when someone we love receives a gift from us, and they are over the moon with it!  Seeing the smile or hearing a gasp followed by a “Thank you so much, I LOVE it!” is one of the best feelings in the world. But how do we avoid gifting jewelry that might cause our loved ones the agony of skin sensitivity or worse, a skin infection?

    Making sure you purchase earrings of the best quality! We recommend that you avoid nickel, as it is the most common allergy. Sterling silver, stainless steel, and 14k gold are all perfect options. 18k gold is too soft for body jewelry as it is prone to scratching - this would be particularly detrimental for someone with an active lifestyle. Gift only hypoallergenic earrings to avoid developing a sensitivity or worse, an allergy to the earrings which could then result in infection.

    By gifting a pair of earrings or a subscription box from Rowan you can rest assured that you are purchasing earrings that are hypoallergenic and nickel-free. Rowan tests all sterling silver, gold vermeil, and 14k gold items we sell to guarantee there is no nickel used.

    You can choose from our wide range of sterling silver earrings and 14k gold earrings. Rowan’s extensive collection includes studs, hoops, threaders, and more. You can even customize your hoops with charms! Like the look of earrings, but don’t want to commit to a piercing? Rowan also has a great selection of ear cuffs, which don’t require a piercing!

    You should always take the time to select earrings that are certified nickel-free for children because young, still healing ears are particularly sensitive. This is especially important because once a nickel allergy develops, a child will usually have it for life. Make sure to select earrings from reputable companies that invest in their product and its quality to ensure that their customers do not suffer from painful skin infections. Many companies choose to lower their costs and use these irritating metals, but Rowan will never compromise on our nickel-free earrings so that you have the best possible experience.

    Most people have sensitive ears for at least 1 year after their ears are pierced as it takes some time for ears to fully heal. Whether or not you have sensitivities or allergies, it is always best to wear the right jewelry to prevent irritation that can lead to infection. At Rowan, all our earrings are made using precious metals that have been carefully designed and tested to ensure a high-quality, hypoallergenic product.

    When purchasing jewelry, confirm that the earrings are hypoallergenic and if possible, confirm that the company that is designing and manufacturing those earrings tests for allergy-inducing metals like nickel. Rowan tests all earrings during manufacturing final products to confirm that no earring contains dangerous metals that exacerbate sensitivity.

    Sensitive earrings


    At Rowan, our earrings are thoughtfully designed to eliminate the common allergens (often used in inexpensive metal alloys) that most frequently cause sensitivity. By selecting to wear Rowan earrings, you will be wearing only hypoallergenic precious metals. While a very small percentage of people are allergic to all metals, most people are not allergic to precious nickel-free metals like sterling silver and 14k gold. By wearing Rowan earrings, your will feel good on the inside and out.